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Communication, Coordination, and Camaraderie in World of Warcraft. Mark Chen October 27, 2006. Overview. concept: game mechanics vs. player behavior setting: World of Warcraft analysis: coordination in high-end raids; camaraderie and trust

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Presentation Transcript
  • concept: game mechanics vs. player behavior
  • setting:World of Warcraft
  • analysis: coordination in high-end raids; camaraderie and trust
  • implications: mechanics too narrow; coordination based on experience, not end goal
game mechanics communities
Game Mechanics & Communities
  • Assumptions:
    • helping people see how individual affects community and vice versa important
    • responsibility of educators
  • If games can be used as training grounds, how do we get people to value community?
  • Previous research looked at game design and mechanics—change mechanic, change player behavior.(Smith; Zagal, Rick, & Hsi)
ethnography of mmorpgs
Ethnography of MMORPGs
  • personal experience didn’t match up with models
  • players’ actual choices are complex and socially situated
  • look at social practice(Taylor, Steinkuehler)

World of Warcraft

  • 7 million subscribers
  • each server has 1000s
  • fantasy world
  • character classes
  • kill monsters, complete quests to gain experience and loot

Attributes and Items

better loot and experience = more powerful character

raid group
Raid Group
  • 40 players - Molten Core
  • each played different role
  • labor was divided/roles emerged through social practice (Strauss, Stevens)
    • through game defined roles (character class and ability)
    • through merit (case-specific ability or prior knowledge)
    • through existing structures (previous relationships)
text chat channels

standard (raid)

specialized (madrogues)

voice chat

  • chat interwoven
  • on and off task
  • simultaneously coordinated
  • contextually meaningful
    • 18:11:20.421 : [4. soulburn] Lori: Remember, ss target will change at Domo, but until then, your rezzer is to be ssed at all times.
  • jovial
an encounter with molten giants why coordination necessary
An encounter with Molten Giants—why coordination necessary?
  • two Main Tanks
  • healers
  • damage dealers kept track of aggro
learning in molten core
Learning in Molten Core
  • individual learning
  • group learning through failure:
    • “Now I hope no one's getting frustrated. This is how raids go. It's normal: You fight and fight and fight until your gear is broken, repair and do it again... It can take a while to master these encounters but we're doing good work!”

bodies from previous failures


Camaraderie (lack thereof)

  • One night, raid suffered meltdown.
  • doubt, bickering in specialized chat channels
    • Shaun: .... Sven, you are fired.
    • Sven: Hey, most people avoid you, Shaunie! It's the breath. I'm giving an alternative!
    • Shaun: an option that is closer to the caves. you... you are trying to kill us all....
    • Sven: Well? It hasn't happened, now has it?? Stop being so paranoid!
  • camaraderie, level of communication in shared channels low (8 min of silence)
  • no communication = no trust(Iacono & Weisband)
  • bottom-up reflection on meltdown
    • “I love our raid... We are like brothers and sisters really. Stuff like this is going to happen. However I think we have all been playing long enough to know that we have a pretty great group of people going here and truly we care about and try to do what is best for one another.”
  • reaffirmed goals
  • trust built through valuing shared experience


  • Must look at player social practice
  • Learning happens socially, through lived experience and practice
  • Coordination needed to succeed in group work
  • Trust among team members crucial
  • What builds trust?
    • specialized roles
    • willingness to fail
    • communication
    • relationships/shared experience goal
    • ability to reflect on goal